I, very recently, was summoned for jury duty, and out of 30 people who were called in that day they let 6 of them go home–I was one of those 6.
|Today I’m going to quickly give you a couple ways that you could use to get out of jury duty without ever having to go, and a way to get out of jury duty if you don’t qualify for those and you do end up having to report in.
The easiest way to get out of jury duty is to actually qualify under one of the legitimate excuses that
is listed on the letter you received in the mail. In Texas, for example, if you’re 70 years of age or older, have a child under 10 that you must care for, have some debilitating medical illness, etc. you are automatically excused from jury duty–you don’t even have to go in, you just check the excuse you qualify under on the paper and mail it in to them with proof (photocopy of driver’s license if you’re over 70, copy of medical forms, etc.). I’ll give you a good example that I probably could have used, but didn’t: one of the requirements to be a juror is that you ‘be of sound mind and body’, now I was diagnosed and treated for ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder–the stuff they give little kids Ritalin for) when I was in college, and I most likely could have said ‘well, I’m not capable of paying attention for a long period of time’ and then sent them the medical forms from the psychiatrist who diagnosed me, and that would have done it!
|Now, if you don’t qualify under one of the legitimate excuses, once you report in there’s several things you can do. First of all, I wore the most obnoxious t-shirt I could find ( this one ), which might have done the job all by itself, but I believe it was something else that actually saved my ass: the prosecutor had each juror, one at a time, stand up and give their name, address, occupation, marital status, and tell whether or not they’d ever served on a jury before. I noticed that of the 6 people excused,|
3 of them were the people who said that they owned a business–I was one of those (I work from home as an online affiliate marketer). I’ve read elsewhere that if you own a business and that business would lose significant business from you not being there as a result of jury duty, that qualifies you to be excused; I suspect that is what occurred here.
If you happen to know ANYBODY involved in the case (cops, witnesses, prosecutor, defendant, defendants friends/relatives, judge, etc.) then you will almost always be immediately excused.
|If you are a police officer, paramedic, or firefighter, then you will almost always be automatically exempt (and likely won’t ever get a jury summons in the mail to begin with). If you have ANY experience with any legal-related jobs, i.e. law enforcement, attorney,|
paralegal, you dropped out of law school, whatever–this will almost ALWAYS get you excused. If you were a sheriff’s deputy for a couple of years waaaaay back in the day, like 20 years ago, TELL THEM–it will probably get you off. If you have ANY friends that are cops and you can say that they’ve talked to you about the job and how things are done (therefore you ‘know stuff’ about the law and how the system works) TELL THEM–it will probably get you off. They don’t want people who have any prior knowledge because then they can’t control precisely what you do and don’t know about the case.
Jury Nullification – i.e. the ‘Jury Veto’
This is an almost guaranteed way to get yourself excused from a jury–basically, a jury DOES have a right to find someone not guilty EVEN IF THEY BELIEVE THEY BROKE THE LAW IN QUESTION, if the jury does not agree with the law or believes that the law should not apply to this specific person in this specific case. There is a very solid legal precedent that supports this, and there’s actually been a case before the Supreme Court involving it where the court ruled that the state does NOT have to inform a jury that they have this right–in other words, you will not be told about this and they really hope you don’t know about it, because they want you to find the person guilty if you think they broke the law, even if you don’t agree with the law, think it shouldn’t be applied in their case, or believe the punishment is too harsh. Essentially, you can vote guilty/not guilty for ANY ARBITRARY REASON you choose, but they don’t want you to know this. From The Mental Floss Blog – ‘How To Get Out of Jury Duty’:
Next time you’re in the jury selection process and really want out, just inform the court that you know all about jury nullification and you aren’t afraid to use it. A little-known facet of common law dating back to Elizabethan England, jury nullification happens when a jury hands down a not guilty verdict but not because they think the defendant is innocent. Instead, they’re making a statement about the validity of the law itself. The first jury nullification happened in 1670, when William Penn (of Pennsylvania fame) and William Mead (of no fame) were charged with unlawful assembly a crime basically created to prevent unsanctioned religious groups from getting together to worship. Clearly, both men were guilty, but the jury refused to convict them on the grounds that the law was unjust. The practice continued in America. Throughout the mid-1800s, northern juries would frequently nullify prosecutions against people who violated the Fugitive Slave Laws. And, during Prohibition, juries around the country nullified numerous alcohol control violations. Prior to the 20th century, nullification was accepted as common practice, but around the late 1800s, judges started taking a harsher view of it. In 1895, the Supreme Court even handed down a ruling saying that judges don’t have to inform juries of their right to nullify. Today, most judges take advantage of this. Many will even tell you that you legally can’t nullify a law. There’s some debate over whether that’s true or not. (At any rate, jurors can’t be punished for the verdict they return and not-guilty defendants can’t be retried, so we figure, what the heck.) Either way, most judges don’t want to deal with a juror who might pull the nullification card, so if you bring it up, you’ll likely be eliminated from the jury pool.
Also, in many states you can request a change of date and get your jury duty postponed for up to a year later; I’ve heard that the best month to ask for is December, as there is a much greater chance of trials being delayed or rescheduled due to the holidays.
Lastly, something that I had read (when I googled ‘how to get out of jury duty’ ) which the prosecutor and judge both said once I got there that you should really remember most: IF YOU GENUINELY DON’T WANT TO BE THERE, THEN THEY WILL NOT WANT YOU ON A JURY! If you can communicate that you really don’t want to serve jury duty, they will let you go almost every time. I can’t emphasize this enough–it’s not a legitimate excuse guaranteed to get you out, but it will work the great majority of the time.
Further Reading and Additional Resources
If you’re genuinely interested in learning more about jury nullification, there’s an excellent book I’ve just finished that you really ought to check out called: Jury Nullification: The Evolution of a Doctrine